Cougar players react to Rolovich news

Following Rolovich’s departure, WSU football players released statements on social media

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COLE QUINN

WSU quarterback Jayden de Laura (4) throws the ball downfield during a college football game Oct. 9 at Martin Stadium in Pullman.

AARIK LONG, Evergreen sports editor

As news broke of Nick Rolovich’s departure from WSU, Cougar football players took to Twitter to react to the loss of their coach.

The team had seemingly grown more and more attached to their coach in recent weeks, with players such as sophomore quarterback Jayden de Laura defending him in press conferences. 

Following his final win at WSU over the weekend, Rolovich received a Gatorade bath from his players. After getting to the locker room, the players celebrated with their coach and chanted his nickname “Rolo.” 

One of the very first of the current players to speak out was redshirt senior defensive back Jaylen Watson. Watson is among the leaders on the team and on the defense specifically.

“This man changed my life in so many ways,” Watson said on Twitter. “A real stand up dude that always stands on what he believes in heart was so pure and a true role model to me and my teammates. Was always bigger than a dollar sign which is the only thing you wrap your fingers around.”

Watson continued his message in a second Tweet in response to the original.

“Everyone bashes this man day in and day out like he is not human or has feelings,” Watson said. “Forcing him to have no friends all he had was us, and all we had was him love you forever [Rolovich].”

De Laura was also among the first to react with a statement first released by his lawyer William Kirk and later released by the quarterback himself on Twitter.

“Words cannot express our profound sadness and disappointment in the termination of our Coach, Nick Rolovich,” de Laura said in his statement. “Playing for him was a great honor that all of us will cherish forever. He put trust in me and allowed me to grow as a man both on and off the field. For that reason, we strongly disagree with today’s decision. But we also understand that Cougar Football has always been bigger than any one person.”

De Laura was first recruited by Rolovich when the coach was still at Hawaii. When Rolovich came to WSU, de Laura committed to the Cougars.

“We are a band of brothers who play and sacrifice for each other, no matter who the head coach is,” de Laura said. “We have never been about one person or any one name on the back of the jersey. We have been and will always be about the logo and the pride that all of us share in being part of the Cougar family. This is a very difficult time for all of us on the team.”

De Laura emphasized how much the players currently need the fans in his statement, as well.

“Change is always hard,” de Laura said. “What we need now, more than ever, is the loud and passionate support the Cougar faithful can bring to Martin Stadium. So let’s pack the house on Saturday, and show this entire nation the special bond that we all have as WSU Cougars.”

Wide receiver Calvin Jackson Jr. also took to Twitter to share his thoughts.

“Much love for Rolo and all that he has done for me,” the receiver said on Twitter. “Thanks for giving me a chance & believing in me when no one else did.”

Jackson followed follow it up on Tuesday by saying he had “nothing but love and trust in” acting head coach Jake Dickert.

Freshman punter Nick Haberer also shared his thoughts on the social media app.

“Crazy to think that a year ago I was back in Australia not knowing what to do with my life, and Coach Rolo took a chance on me,” Haberer said in a Tweet. “He was my Coach, my mate and most importantly my mentor and taught me valuable life lessons that will always be with me! Love ya [Rolovich].”

Graduate linebacker Jahad Woods has been a member of this team for five years now and has become a leader on the defensive side of the ball.

“I’ll never forget this past spring when [Rolovich] and [Coach Josh Richardson] held team meetings where they brought in people to teach the team about financial literacy, Credit, how taxes work, how to buy a house and car,” Woods said on Twitter. “Real life information us as young men have to be competent in. I’ll appreciate that for life.”

Wide receiver Lincoln Victor played under Rolovich his freshman season at Hawaii.

“I’ll never forget when [Rolovich] called me when I was in the portal to just talk about life and how my family was doing,” Victor said in a Tweet. “There’s a bigger reason than just lines on a field, that is why I made the decision to follow a man with the spirit of Aloha. Mahalo Coach Rolo.”

Sophomore defensive back Zane Thornton joined WSU as a preferred walk-on in Rolovich’s first season at the helm of the Cougars.

“Rolo took the time to read a random email sent from my older brother and decided to take a chance on me,” Thornton said on Twitter. “Words can’t express how grateful and proud I am to have been able to play under [Rolovich]. Thank you for everything.” 

Former WSU wide receiver Tay Martin transferred to Oklahoma State after former head coach Mike Leach left WSU for Mississippi State at the end of the 2019 season. 

“Coach [Rolovich] is most definitely one of the realest people I’ve dealt with through my football journey,” Martin said in a Tweet. “Sad to see what happened at WSU. Rooting for you on your next journey coach. Appreciate everything you did for me.”

Sophomore kicker Lucas Dunker Jr. transferred to WSU this past offseason from Garden City Community College in Kansas.

“Not only did our team lose coaches. We lost friends, mentors, role models, but most of all family members,” Dunker said on Twitter. “Thank you [Rolovich] for giving me a chance to perform at the highest level and pursue my dreams.” 

Redshirt sophomore kicker Dean Janikowski tweeted out his frustrations about this event before deleting the post. 

The Tweet read “It’s one thing to lose a head coach it’s another thing to have your AD be late to the most important meeting of the year.”

On Instagram, both senior left tackle Liam Ryan and graduate receiver Renard Bell posted about their former coach.

Ryan posted an image of himself and Rolovich fist-bumping captioned “I stand behind this warrior of GOD forever. Thank you for everything.”

Bell posted a video of him celebrating and hugging Rolovich following this season’s Stanford win with the caption “Nothing but love.”